I’m thinking stabbed fingers and hand/arm/finger cramps count as danger
As I sit here waiting for a sumptuous lunch of fake-Kraft Mac n Cheese (I love its name in Canada even more–Kraft Dinner, aka KD), i am 99% done with my project of this week. (Which is fitting, and you will see why very shortly.)
I decided this was the perfect year to enter the annual birdhouse contest at a store called Phoebe’s Nest. But my initial thoughts were “I can’t think of anything to do!” and “My woodcraft skills are questionable!” Then I thought of something. Not a woodcraft project at all, but a tent, made of (this will surprise no one who has been following along so far) felt.
And like the wildass that I am, I freehanded the whole damn thing (which is occasionally obvious).
And I really really like this project.
Almost every bit of this is made of recycled materials, and the rest from leftovers from past or undone projects, which is one of the things that pleases me about it. The floor and side walls of the tent are made of a sweater I got at a thrift store and felted in the washing machine. I reinforced the floor by sewing a piece of cardboard from a mail order purchase between two pieces of the thick felt.
I made a frame of a heavier gauge wire from my “I’m going to make jewelry!” phase, slipping it into slits in the floor and sewing it to the tent walls.
The end flaps are made of a square of a burlappy sort of material that came in a bag of fabric scraps from the costume shop at American Players Theatre.
Then I made the signs from pieces of another thrift shop sweater, needle felting the words on them. As you can see, my freehanding tendencies — and Eyeball once, cut multiple times philosophy — sometimes get the better of me. #Occupy has some serious kerning issues. I did better with the long banner, which may have been helped by felting in We and then 99% and then filling in the middle 2 lines.
The stark black stitching is intentional — those are meant to be tie-strap thingies.
So woo hoo! Finished! Except not. I really wanted there to be some things inside the tent. So I made a sleeping bag and a matching one that’s rolled up, and a red backpack. And I decided on one more thing, both to make the shape of the backpack less flat, and also because I didn’t like the empty backpack any more than I liked an empty tent. So I made a wee book to go inside. I used stick-on Velcro to put the pieces in place — hooks only, as the felt provides the fuzzy.
One more bit of verisimilitude to go, and it will be done. So now, full of KD, I go downstairs to photocopy or scan (whichever looks best) the cover of the CD version of an album I owned in vinyl back in the late 70s. It came with a stencil so you could spray paint the cover everywhere, which was my inspiration for making a sign of it.
As it turned out, I photocopied it, but the copy came out black and white. So I added the incandescent yellow of the album graphics with a yellow sharpie. Mod Podged the whole thing onto cereal box cardboard and used staples and a bit of Velcro to place the sign at the mouth of the tent. And this is the version I submitted to the contest:
And Tom Robinson, those songs are still pretty relevant today (sad to say). Rock on.
While in past years the birdhouses were all sold and donated to a fund to restore the local theater, this year they will be returned to the artists. So I plan to be showing this at Wiscon this year, where it will probably also be for sale.
By the time this year is more than halfway through, I suspect the most-used tag will be Fixes for t-shirts I wrecked by dropping food on my rack.
This is the first. Though it was originally kinda ruined when I got bleach spots on the hip. How that occurred I can’t even tell you, since I don’t use bleach in my laundry. It’s a mystery. I was wearing it anyway under a cardigan, but then I dropped something on my rack (it’s always salad dressing or something that won’t quietly disappear in the wash — someone needs to write a scientific paper on the attraction of oily foods to the sizable rack).
So I found a tutorial through Pinterest where that begins with you spritzing bleach all over a black cotton tee, so it seemed like a natural. Plus, it looks really amazing.
You can find the tutorial here:
So here’s the shirt I started out with — a nice basic tee that I wasn’t nearly ready to part with yet. Except — crap! Grease stain!
I sprayed the shirt with bleach, and then promptly tossed it in the washer. But here it is, post-spritz.
I dotted around several colors: smudges of matte gray and some iridescent blue and red, using my Shiva oil paint sticks.
Then I smeared around some white glitter paint throughout. The original tutorial used white paint and glitter separately, but I went with what I could find at the megalomart on the way home from work, which has a good fabric section and a crappier crafts section. I wore this once, then decided it needed more glitter. Though I wore it again, I suspect I’ll add some spots of paint by thumb-flicking paint-loaded bristles, rather than flicking the whole brush a la Pollock.
But here is its current form:
Though I’m very nervous about it, I’m wanting to try this on a canvas tote, with some handwritten text in a resist medium before I bleach. I think it would make a very cool item for the Wiscon art show — which, HEY, I GOT ACCEPTED!!!
So yes, a perfect gift for my future sister-in-law. It finally clicked a day or two after I found this great tutorial on painting faux-Warhol portraits, hand painted instead of silk screened:
Future SIL has a dog that she is just mad about, and the rest of the family finds Zoe adorable too. (And Zoe and my brother are nuts about each other, aww.) So I got my brother to email me some pictures of her, and he informed me that Zoe’s mama particularly loves pictures of her with her ears cocked forward.
This project definitely strayed into I-cut-out-my-own-leaf territory (see my post on second grade art, “The Darkest Depths of Mordor”), both intentionally and unintentionally. My main departure from Cathie’s project is that I chose smaller canvases — a 2-ft. by 2-ft. commitment seems to be a lot to ask of another person’s decor. Plus I had four 5-in. by 4-in. canvases, which adds up to a much more reasonable 8 x 10. Most other departures were accidental. They made a difference, too, but I ended up liking this project a LOT anyway.
For one thing, I had trouble printing out the photo onto actual photo paper (I was too impatient to go through all the figuring out of settings and that, or to waste any more photo paper.), so instead of photocopying a print, I just printed out four originals onto regular paper. I don’t know if that affected my results or not.
It will surprise none of you who read my tale of second grade impetuousness that I JUST NOW discovered I used the wrong kind of brush in painting over the pictures once they were Mod Podged onto the canvas. The materials list says foam brushes, which I totally missed. ::forehead smack:: So there are brushstrokes I could not make go away. (I think they look a little worse in the photos than in person, but some colors were definitely streakier than others. And I wonder if the dark background made those parts tend toward streakiness anyway because of the ink coverage.) They don’t look exactly Warhol like, but I do think they look cool.
I decided to dab on a little iridescent gold paint onto the buckle of Zoe’s collar in each print, which gave me the brainstorm of using the same paint (Shiva Sticks oil paint crayons) around the canvas edges. This is a case in which I intentionally made it imperfect, drawing it across the edges and then smudging it into the canvas with my fingers. The two or three times I got a little streak of gold on the edge of the image itself, I left it there. It goes with the streaky look of the painting, and adds an energy to the piece, I think. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. After that, a few coats of varnish for acrylic and oil, and done!
Like I said, it didn’t come out just like the tutorial (which looks pretty awesome), but I still like the result. Just for the hell of it I’ll have to try doing a canvas with the foam brush and see the difference that makes. And maybe next time read a little more closely when I’m diving into a tutorial project….
Okay, the entirety of the projects on this blog so far are (is?) handmade gifts. And just now I’m beginning to ruminate on the inherent dangers involved? Um. Well.
If the handmade gift is perilous, the late gift is even more so. Because expectations of its awesomeness rise with the length of time you’re working on it (or claim to be working on it). Holy crap, it’s 3 months late, IT MUST BE A ROCKETSHIP THAT WILL TAKE ME TO THE MOOOOOON!! Then if it’s a personal massager made of bottlecaps, it’s kind of hard to come back from those expectations.
On top of that issue, there’s the thing when you are making something for someone awesome who is going to be in the family soon (and pretty much already is, as far as we’re concerned), and you don’t want said someone to think you dug up something you made in Vacation Bible School (back mumbly-mumble years ago) with popsicle sticks. Which was the case for me with Awesome Future Sister-in-Law, who has been an absolute treasure, doing an enormous amount to help the whole family get through some really hard times this year. She’s also funny and pragmatic and fierce and protective. So we all adore her to pieces.
Which means there were several gift ideas thought of and rejected before I remembered a tutorial I found through Pinterest. But I’m going to give that project its own post — mostly because I like the title and it would be a crime to let it go to waste.
I seem to have rented a booth at a permanent flea market.
Well, it’s a local store in the midst of changing from dollar store-type merch to indoor flea market, and I’ve put my app in for a small booth when they’ve finally cleared the space for the second room. It might be something I’d move crafts into eventually but for now I’d love to get rid of some of the furniture that’s jamming my garage. I’ve got kitchen gadgets I bought in a fit of ambition that I’ve never or rarely used, too.
Reasonable rent, no yearly contract, no requirement to sit and hang over my stuff at all, and the advertising’s all taken care of.
And maybe there is.
That feeling you get when you’re in the middle of a project (or six) and you think about it at random points during the day and how the minute you get home you’re going to dive right in. But by the time you get home, all the energy and urgency has been completely sucked away. I often blame it on my commute, but I ended up working from home yesterday due to an eye infection that needed another day of treatment before I wasn’t Eye Goo Mary in the workplace, and I STILL lost my energy.
Though maybe that was due to another factor. I did start something last night, a project that will involve cutting down the front of a tunic I’m making into something else. Instead of doing the sloppy free-hand thing, I measured to the halfway point all the way up from the hem, being super careful about it … and it doesn’t look even! ::shakes tiny fist at the Universe:: So that sapped my will to cut the thing and possibly botch it (also considering the whole eye thing makes me tired and cranky, not the best state of mind for doing irrevocable things). So I contented myself with getting out the seam ripper and undoing the crossover neckline so I can find the center at the neckline.
So I don’t quite know how to proceed. Just find the center at at the hem and power on up to the center at the neck, and ignore the little dots I carefully placed? Or cut along the dotted lines and ignore the ones that seem off-kilter?
I feel like I should rewatch that episode of Farscape with the alien dudes (everyone on the show is an alien, including the Earth guy, which is why I like it) who keep shouting, “WHY SO DIFFICULT?!”
Because dude. Why so difficult?!